NHTSA opens 2 probes into ignition switch defects in Chrysler models

Article by Andrew Christian, on June 20, 2014

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched two probes into ignition switch issues in 1.2 million Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. The issues were similar to those of small cars like the Chevrolet Cobalt that forced General Motors to recall millions of units.

One of the probes regards to whether there are safety glitches in 525,000 Jeep SUVs on ignition switches, which may shift out of “run” position when hit by a driver’s knee and cause failed deployment of airbags during a crash.

The other probe concerns the scope and effectiveness of a 2011 recall of MY2010 Dodge Grand Caravans, Chrysler Town & Country minivans and Dodge Journey crossovers over ignition switches that may shift from “run” to “accessory” mode.

The recall includes 700,000 MY2008-2010 minivans and crossovers. The two probes are trying to link airbags that fail to deploy in a crash and ignition switches that could slip out of the “run” position. So far, the faulty ignition switches in GM’s small cars have been tied to 13 deaths.

NHTSA said in statement that it has assessed how ignition switch position affects the airbag deployment strategies of all major carmakers as part of an effort to better discern the relationship between the ignition switches and airbags.

According to NHTSA, Chrysler has already sent new information about its airbag control software, saying that an ignition switch falling out of the “on” position could deactivate airbags during a crash once the car’s reserve power is depleted.

NHTSA noted that there were complaints of stalled vehicles in the probe, there were no reports of failed airbag deployment. There were also no reports of injuries related to the issues.

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